Feminism is about a lot more than one’s stand on abortion. It shouldn’t be a single-issue movement or a tribute to collectivism.
However, the feminist Left in America has decided that marginalizing a whole segment of the female population because they’re pro-life conservatives is what it’s all about these days.
This issue is far bigger than Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, or any other female conservative figure that is unapologetic about her pro-life stand. However, Jessica Valenti’s recent column in The Washington Post, “The fake feminism of Sarah Palin,” merits a direct response.
Valenti seized the opportunity to malign Palin’s speech at the Susan B. Anthony List Breakfast as part of a larger strategy through which “ . . . conservatives are trying to sell anti-women policies shrouded in pro-women rhetoric.” There certainly is a strategy at work, but Palin’s not orchestrating it. What we have here is the cardinal tactic of the feminist Left—to quickly align conservatives with the term “anti-women.” But what is it about a conservative stance that is anti-women? Is it the commitment of conservative pro-lifers to protecting unborn babies, many of whom happen to be girls? Does a pro-life vision not encompass respect for all human life, of which female life is an integral part? Of course, it does. But without that crafty link between the words conservative and anti-women, the Left’s premise is lost.
Valenti disparages Palin’s reference to pro-life suffragists by stating, “It may seem odd to argue that for women to make progress, they should ground their movement in the past — but it’s appropriate, given the beliefs of conservative ‘feminists’.” However, she soon questions, “ . . . would Palin be addressing tea party rallies if Betty Friedan had never talked about the ‘problem that has no name’?” In other words, looking back is only fitting when it furthers the Left’s definition of feminism. When it doesn’t, it’s out-of-date and backward. Friedan is okay, but Elizabeth Cady Stanton isn’t? Who says so? I guess the same people who deem pro-life, founding feminists outdated.
Despite Valenti’s assertion with regard to feminism that “Now, there’s no grand arbiter of the label, and the tremendous range of thought in the movement means there isn’t a singular platform one can look to as a reference point,” the likes of Palin still aren’t welcome. I can only assume that “the tremendous range of thought” excludes conservative pro-life advocates. I guess it’s similar to the ideological medley leaping off the page of self-proclaimed “non-partisan” NOW/PAC’s 2010 endorsements. Twenty-one Democrats. Hooray for diversity!
I understand Ms. Valenti’s wish for feminism to not become “yet another empty slogan.” (I’ve lived through enough hope, change, and yes we can to empathize.) However, why is Palin’s feminism “an empty rallying call”? Because she’s conservative? Because she’s pro-life? A little of both?
It’s important to note that Valenti also adds that while she was Governor, “ . . . Palin cut funding for an Anchorage shelter for teenage moms.” There’s just one itty-bitty problem with that assertion (and with the column Valenti links to). It’s 100% false. Covenant House Executive Director Deirdre A. Cronin released this statement in September of 2008: “Despite some press reports to the contrary, our operating budget was not reduced.” In fact, Palin increased those funds.
It has become all-too-convenient for the Left to distort the likes of Sarah Palin—those who believe that abortion is a states’ rights issue—into an anti-abortion police who seek to jail those who have abortions and to impose a federal law that would make abortion illegal. If you watched mainstream coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, you would have thought the former Alaska Governor was yanking women out of voting booths and holding up picket signs that read Reduce women’s salaries, enough equality already! Unfortunately, with 90% of the media in the Left’s corner and most sources ready, willing, and able to repeat what someone else says without bothering to research it, fiction turns into “fact” pretty quickly.
Bottom line: The feminist Left in America is on an all-out mission to demonize conservative women, particularly political leaders. If they get their way, girls will grow up revering the pro-abortion dogma of the Left and upholding the false characterization of conservative pro-lifers as anti-women. The suffragists’ founding feminist movement will be thrown under the bus with as much ease as the words of America’s Founding Fathers often have been. The winners will be scandalous Planned Parenthood, NOW’s far-left agenda disguised as “the largest, most comprehensive feminist advocacy group in the United States,” and a feminist movement that champions a woman’s right to abort as the supreme emblem of female liberty.
The losers will be tomorrow’s young girls.
Jedediah Bila is a conservative columnist and commentator living in New York City. For more information on Jedediah, please visit jedediahbila.com.